Cleansing the doors of cinematic perception... for a better now

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

East of Borneo, Rose Hobart (1931) and Thou (2008)

Joseph Cornell did the first youtube video "remix" or "sweded" or whatever the kids are callin' it, back in the day (1931), and it's seeable here. Name of ROSE HOBART. Instead of remixing the Shining to be a cuddly comedy about "Jack" to cite a popular youtube example, American surrealist Joseph Cornell sweded a 1931 jungle romantic action film name of EAST OF BORNEO.

I actually found out about Cornell's HOBART by accident - wandering into the original EAST OF BORNEO at a showing in the Whitney during an Edward Hopper retrospective. I didn't get the whole ROSE HOBART thing and now I presume that was why EAST was being shown, with HOBART probably on afterwards, as Cornell was in the same curatorial rubric as Hopper, presumably.

I don't think its original director (George Melford) would be happy about how BORNEO got into the Whitney (i.e. you're only art when someone else uses you for paint) but at least it did, and before I was dragged from the theater by my impatiently hissing ex-girlfriend, I fell in love with BORNEO and became determined to find it on tape. The years dragged fruitlessly on, digital revolutions occured, and I finally found it on DVD... at a snazzy little joint called Sinister Cinema, and it's still available for order here. I'd recommend ordering it from these fine folks on DVD-R, rather than netflix the Alpha version (which was probably ripped from an old VHS tape of Sinister's version.)

The point is, you don't need Cornell to remaster BORNEO to get a sense of its outsider poetry brilliance. Godard would point it out for you. If he was in the room. Which he wont be. But you can still glean lots of weird juicy metatextual poetry off it, if you approach in the right frame of mind. To wit, as an artistic salute to Cornell's original cinema "remix" I made the above "collages" by smudging a still from BORNEO, which I ripped off someone else's site.

That begs an interesting question. In the case of BORNEO. Who owns what? How can Cornell copyright HOBART or how can an image or still that's scanned and put up on the internet suddenly "belong" to anyone? Surely, anyone can show it. BORNEO is apparently in the public domain, and anyone can take footage from an old dupe and make their own HOBART if they want. Or take a HOBART and make their own BORNEO. Can't they? So go ahead... cut up the precious lifestuff that is EAST OF BORNEO, and live... live to metatextualize another day.

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